It’s the 4th of July – one of the most highly celebrated and popular beach days in the entire US Summer season.
The stage is set, lifeguards keep vigilant in the crowds of swimmers. Cars are being packed with surfboards, towels, beach chairs, and sand. The smell of sunscreen is in the air.
But in places like New York City, a storm is brewing. A storm of plastic.
Just 2 days before the big events, campers in Eastern Long Island found a dead leatherback sea turtle washed up on the shore.
The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society responded to the situation, and reported the animal as deceased. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, but a 13-gallon kitchen garbage bag was found in the animal’s intestine.
Leatherback sea turtles are some of the most incredible animals in our ocean. They’re the largest sea turtle in the world, and don’t actually have a hard shell! And New York is only one stop on their 10,000 mile long journey each year.
But the 4th of July obviously poses a serious threat to these passersby, and other marine animals – like dolphins, endangered whales, seals, seabirds, and fish. All of these different species are at serious risk from plastic pollution in any coastal state.
So this 4th of July – celebrate! Be happy and have a great time. But MAKE SURE that you leave nothing but footprints on the beach and ripples in the water. The ecosystem is delicate on United States coastlines in the Summer. And your plastic solo cups, coffee cups, bags, water bottles, cigarette butts, straws, and balloons (just to name a few) WILL harm marine animals.
What you can do to help
- Don’t use solo cups on the beach, drink beverages in a re-usable container.
- Inspire others: clean the beach a bit while you’re there If you see some litter. People will notice and talk to you about it. It’s a great way to educate other people about our oceans.
- Don’t litter your cigarette butts! – Recycle them here
- Don’t bring balloons to the beach!
- Participate in a local beach cleanup this weekend – It helps us to show the world what they are littering on the beach so we can stop the plastic at its source.